TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: 11-Sept Police Widow Gets Domain-Cyberburned

Re: 11-Sept Police Widow Gets Domain-Cyberburned

Gene S. Berkowitz (
Sat, 23 Oct 2004 01:25:24 -0400

In article <>, says:

> In article <>,
> says:

>> "The widow of a hero NYPD Emergency Service detective killed on 9/11
>> created a Web site as a loving tribute to her husband -- only to have
>> it snapped up by a heartless Internet company that forced her to fork
>> over $800 to buy it back, The Post has learned.

>> "Kathy Vigiano's gut-wrenching ordeal began in January when she
>> discovered that her husband Joseph's memorial Web site -- which she
>> filled with personal photos and an emotional letter from one of their
>> sons -- had been replaced by ads for penile-enlargement tools,
>> sexual-performance drugs and Viagra...


>> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: The very same people did that to our
>> site as well. If you type in
>> you get the very same preposterous ads.
>> And of course, the guy wants to sell that one also. I **thought**
>> there were laws against that sort of cybersquatting, but I guess
>> that only pertains for large commercial web sites. Any damn fool
>> would know that 'internet history' was discussed there on the site
>> which was the property of the Internet Historical Society, which is
>> *my* name, and it was a running site for three or four years. Yet,
>> that moron simply walked away with it, got the org registrar to give
>> it to him I guess.

>> I had asked John Levine to take it away from the person and give it
>> back to me. John won't do it. I thought he was one of the registrars
>> for .org ... so I know how this poor lady feels now as well. But I can
>> tell you *I* am not going to pay his blackmail ransom demand. If I had
>> any money I would just sue the damn registrar who took it from me and
>> gave it to him (I understand he is in some country in Europe. The lady
>> should not have paid anything either, just immediatly filed suit
>> against the registrar she had used when she first set up the site and
>> done it that way. Of course, I have no money to pay any lawyers to
>> help me, so that leaves me and high and dry. Maybe
>> some attorney doing pro-bono work will be able to get our site back.
>> If people would quit paying good money to these charlatans who steal
>> the names that netizens use for their web sites, then they would go
>> out of business. PAT]

> What am I missing here? Where is it actually stated that
> "buying" a domain name grants you rights to it in perpetuity?
> It's very obvious from the agreements made with the registrars
> that you are _renting_ the domain. ICANN insists that no
> domain can be registered for more than ten years at a time; that
> certainly seems to preclude automatically owning the right to a domain
> for life. Of course, by simply renewing it before the term expires,
> the rights remain with you.

> On the day your "lease" expires, if you haven't renewed, that name
> returns to the pool, or is possibly auctioned off by the registrar.

> How is this any different from a telephone number? If you stop paying
> the bill, the telco shuts off service, and eventually gives (sells) the
> number to someone else. Should I sue Verizon to get the phone number
> of my childhood home?

> Gene

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: What you are overlooking is that the
> lady did not come close to having her domain name for ten years. She
> had it at best for two or three years, it was an active domain name
> then it up and disappeared when the registrar chose to give it or
> sell it to the penis enlargement man.

NO. According to the NY Post Article:

"They immediately realized they inadvertently allowed the registration
for their site '' to elapse [sic] and that each
believed the other had renewed it."

It wasn't taken, stolen, hijacked, or dematerialized. IT EXPIRED.

> What you are overlooking is that very few netizens care much either
> way about what ICANN says or thinks should be done.

Fine. Then let them actually READ the registration agreements they
agree to, and be bound by the terms of that contract.

> ICANN *only* represents big business interests anyway, not the
> small, average person with a web site. If you don't think that is
> the case, then since Microsoft has had their domain name
> '' well over ten years, petition the registrars or
> ICANN to force Microsoft to give it up and give others a chance at
> it.

> Or maybe now that Yahoo has had their domain names for that same
> length of time, they can be forced out.

No, you completely misunderstand. As recommended, Microsoft, Yahoo,
or YOU can register a domain for ten years. If, within 9 years and 364
days you RENEW the domain, it's yours for another ten years. If,
instead, at 9 years + 365 days, you decide to go skiing instead of
renewing your registration, it returns to the free pool, where ANYONE,
including the original registrar, can have a shot at it. The exception
being where a name is a recognized trademark, such as "Microsoft" or

> Oh, and you don't hear ICANN complaining that the joker who
> registered '' most likely did it knowing full well
> that people looking for information on the White House will
> unwittingly type '.com' instead of '.gov' ICANN represents big
> business only, **not** people like Mrs. Viagino. The government
> wants business to control the net; they use ICANN as their tool.

> What you are overlooking regards phone numbers is that if a phone
> number is listed in a directory and is in active service for no matter
> how many years, as your childhood phone number might well have been if
> your parents or yourself had chosen to continue living there and were
> still referring to that number as your own then one day Verizon
> chooses to disconnect it or route it to someone else without so much
> as a single notice to you then you *would* have a very actionable
> suit against Verizon.

And if I "choose" not to pay the bill, Verizon has the right to
disconnect my service, unless I dispute the bill. As we are moving
into a new paradigm where phones are mobile, and the number has no
relation whatsoever to a physical location (other than next to my
ear), it's an even more specious argument to claim it as "yours" if
you fail to pay for it.

> Finally, what you are overlooking is that if the registrar had any
> care about people's sensibilities, even if Mrs. Viagino *had*
> misunderstood the terms of registration (I do not think she was even
> told it had to be renewed, etc) then the registrar might have told
> the lady something like 'this is a final notice, the site is being
> removed from you; gather up your files, pictures, etc and find some
> other place to park them.'

There is a very clear distinction that must be made between a domain,
which is simply a NAME in a lookup table, and a HOST, where the actual
files are stored. You can be pretty sure that the files were still on
the hosting server, and could be accessed via the IP address
originally assigned, unless that bill wasn't paid either.

If people are confused about the difference between a Registrar, who
offers domain registration, and a Host, who rents file server space,
then maybe they should do a little more research before proffering
their credit card number.

> Then maybe after two or three weeks shut
> it down. Or was the penis-enlargement man in such a rush he could not
> spare a week or two for a man killed in the line of duty, leaving a
> wife and family behind? Oh, I know it would not matter to ICANN, but
> you would think there might have been some courtesy given. PAT]

The Post article does not mention the time elapsed from when the
registration expired to when the speculator bought it.

The real irony in all this:

Domain Name: VIGIANO.COM
Created on: 25-Jan-04
Expires on: 25-Jan-06

... they only renewed it for two more years...


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